Dunedin confirmed as host of Oceania, NZ champs

Mountain bike rider Ronel Cook negotiates part of the cross-country track at Signal Hill...
Mountain bike rider Ronel Cook negotiates part of the cross-country track at Signal Hill last year. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Head for the hills - Dunedin will be a mountain biker's heaven for three days early next year.

Cycling New Zealand has confirmed Dunedin will host a double-header of UCI mountain bike racing events in late January.

The Oceania Mountain Bike Championships will be hosted in conjunction with the previously announced National Mountain Bike Championships.

The dual event will provide twice the opportunities for New Zealand riders to win coveted titles during the three days of racing on January 24-26.

It is a big vote of confidence in Mountain Biking Otago, which hosted the 2018 Oceania Championships and also the national secondary school championships last year.

That event attracted 470 competitors and was a big undertaking. The Oceanias and nationals are expected to attract around 300 competitors between them, so it is not as big but there are other challenges MBO president Kristy Booth said.

"This is huge because what we are actually doing is hosting the two biggest mountain bike events for Cycling New Zealand on the same weekend," she said.

"There has been a lot of planning go in to find the right schedule for the riders as well as the organisers.

"We are not putting events together. We are running two cross-country races, two downhill races, enough practice for everybody as well as providing variety of courses so we are not running the same track for each of those races."

The Oceania Championships provide a valuable opportunity for all nations to secure Olympic qualifying points which should ensure a top-class field.

The provisional schedule features the Oceania cross-country races on January 24, the Oceania downhill races on January 25 with a dedicated day for the national championships for both cross-country and downhill on January 26.

The events will be held on the Signal Hill mountain bike trails.

The events have been supported by the UCI and Oceania Cycling Confederation along with the host club, MBO.

Cycling New Zealand chief executive officers Jacques Landry applauded the efforts which have gone into planning the dual events.

"There's special mention to the work that the team from MBO, who have already undertaken significant work to make it happen and their support will ensure our national and now international riders will experience a world-class event experience," Landry said.

"We believe that doubling the event has significant benefits for riders who can travel once and get the bonus of racing for two titles and valuable UCI points and of course it will be great to welcome international riders to Dunedin once again."

Booth said the events would need up to 40 volunteers each day for the races to run smoothly.

"You will get to see some of the best riders in this country and from Australia, so it will be very rewarding to be trackside," she said in what was a effectively a call to arms for more volunteers.

 

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